Port: The NDGOP will have to do all those messy district reorganizations again

Will the Trump activists, aligned with the Legislature's Bastiat Caucus, do it all over again? They may not be inclined to.

PHOTO: NDGOP Headquarters
The sign for the North Dakota Republican Party headquarters sits along East Boulevard Avenue near the state Capitol in Bismarck. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)
Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service file photo
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MINOT, N.D. — The faction of Donald Trump loyalists who ambushed many of the North Dakota Republican Party's local district reorganizations, and had some success electing their own to leadership positions, may have to do it all over again.

That's the law. The Democratic-NPL will have to do theirs over too, though that wasn't nearly so contentious an endeavor for them this year as it was for Republicans.

Here's section 16.1-03-17 of the North Dakota Century Code : "If redistricting of the legislative assembly becomes effective after the organization of political parties as provided in this chapter and before the primary or the general election, the political parties, in the newly established precincts and districts, shall proceed to reorganize as closely as possible in conformance with this chapter to assure compliance with primary election filing deadlines."

All 47 legislative districts that reorganized this spring will have to reorganize again after the Legislature approves a redrawn district map during a session that will likely take place in November or December.

You could quibble and say the statute doesn't really require every district to reorganize again since it refers to "the newly established precincts and districts," and not every district may see changes.


I don't buy that interpretation. The Legislature is required to redraw the lines, and even if the lines of any given district and its precincts are drawn in the same place as before, that's still a redrawing.
The law isn't as clear as it should be, but this is likely a moot point as the redistricting process will almost certainly touch every district in the state anyway. That means another reorganization process in every district.

Will the Trump activists, aligned with the Legislature's Bastiat Caucus , do it all over again?

They may not be inclined to.

Their goal was control of the state party. When the NDGOP meets later this month in Medora to pick new officers, the district leaders elected this spring will vote on it. That's the election the Trump/Bastiat people were hoping to influence. They want one of their own as party chair. As things stand now, it looks like that effort will fizzle , with the only Trumpy/Bastiat-aligned person running for the chair position so far being a Facebook gadfly named Robert Wheeler, whose greatest political achievement so far was an ignominious fourth-place finish in the District 8 House primary in 2020.

He's running against long-time Republican and widely respected Mandan businessman Perrie Schafer.

The current chair, former congressman Rick Berg , isn't running again.


I don't believe it's going to be much of a competition.

But could the Trumpy/Bastiat activists get another shot after the district committees reorganize again?

Unlike those committees, the law doesn't require the state NDGOP to reorganize, and the state party hasn't done that after past redistricting cycles. Not after the 2010 census or the 2000 count. The party's bylaws also require an election of new leadership in June for a two-year term.

So, no, they won't get another shot, which takes away a big part of the impetus for the Trumpy/Bastiat activists to flood their district reorganizations again.

Not that their effort this spring was all that successful. Remember, in terms of controlling leadership in legislative districts, the Trumpy/Bastiat folks actually lost ground , and what little they held onto was likely their high watermark in terms of influence on the NDGOP's leadership this cycle.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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